Thank the Lord for daddies

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In looking at quotations that pertain to the upcoming holiday of this Sunday, Father’s Day, I found one that seems very appropriate these days. The author is unknown, but the quote is: “Anyone man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.”

This past week, my brother and sister joined my daddy and mother for a few days down on the Forgotten Coast of Mexico Beach, Florida. What a wonderful time we had. What a blessing God has bestowed upon us three children as we continue to enjoy our parents.

We laughed and ate, played Canasta and ate, enjoyed the sunny beach and ate, and then, at meal times, we ate some more. Taking a few days off and forgetting the everyday responsibilities of work helped me to understand the grazing habits of animals that simply walk around the pasture all day. I would find myself, not really hungry, but just lingering around the counters in the kitchen, choosing a cookie here, a donut there, some chips or anything else that didn’t move quickly enough.

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My dad enjoys these gatherings as much as any of us. Now that he has retired from farming, he has the time to enjoy so many things that his chosen vocation had prevented him from enjoying. Any job, especially farming, can be all consuming, but a good dad (or mom these days) is faced with a dilemma.

One of the greatest of all priorities for parents is to provide for the needs of the family. Provisions of food, shelter, transportation, etc., do not grow on trees. They are earned by the sweat of someone’s brow. A responsible dad (or mom) will work, even when he or she might be desirous of family time, to make certain those necessities are provided.

The difficulty or dilemma arises when there is the realization that all the needs of a family are not physical. In other words, life is not simply a place to live, something to eat, a way to travel, but also includes the great need for love. Parents must provide necessities, yet the provision of love in the home is even more important than those items we can touch and eat. Balancing those two priorities are not easy.

There was no doubt as to the acceptance of both my parents as to their responsibilities for our upbringing. They both worked hard to provide in every way. Daddy was a farmer and momma did public work, as it was called if one worked in town.

But, as hard and diligently as they worked in their vocations, they didn’t fail to offer that most important ingredient of love. There was love in our home and that is what we celebrate on Mother’s and Father’s Day. I celebrate the love of those who brought me and my siblings into this world.

At the beach we felt that love as a family. We recalled those days gone by as we were doing things together in the present. Exaggerations were the order of the day. A fly on the wall listening to our conversations would have thought, “My, Lord, how did they ever go through such times!”

Daddy would listen as we laughed and inflated the number of spankings that we had received. What, in reality, were a few spankings interspersed through the years of adolescence had grown to almost daily “beatings.” As I think back now, I can guarantee that we earned more of those than we actually received. But, simply telling the truth is never as much fun as exaggeration.

In addition, as we sit around the tables with daddy and momma, with a few relatives, the talk of work comes up. As I mentioned last week, if I keep remembering incorrectly, the work that I did as a child will grow exponentially. Yet, if all of the work that my siblings and I actually did was added up and probably doubled, it would not reach the amount that daddy did.

Daddy is still able to do many of the things that has enriched out lives. No one can make cheese grits as good as his are. Lunch and dinner are prepared by my sister, mother, brother, me or others, but don’t mess with breakfast. That’s daddy’s bailiwick. Always has been, always will be.

I don’t know how the breakfast responsibility got started; maybe because he was the first one to rise in the morning. He not only can bring the bacon home, he can fry it up. Then, with all the grease that is left by the bacon, he can fry a double-yoked egg with the best of them. After frying the egg, he can either save the grease for the best mustard greens you ever ate or he can make some great tomato gravy to go with the biscuits.

He can also play a mean game of cards. Canasta, with four players, is our game down at the beach. There is usually a game played as breakfast is being prepared so daddy is not a part of that game. We would not let him off the hook for that breakfast chore. But after that, he is usually a part of a game and takes great joy in playing. He’s a good partner.

Our family is spread, geographically, from coastal Virginia down to south Florida now. Age-wise we start at daddy’s 82 and go all the way down to Anystin’s second year. Needless to say, it takes a lot of effort to get us all together. Those times are precious and few. Say “Hallelujah!” if your family can get together with greater ease. Also, make the effort to do so.

The Greek poet Homer wrote: “Rarely are sons similar to their fathers: most are worse, and a few are better than their fathers.” I don’t have any illusions about being better. I’d settle for being a close second.

This Sunday is Father’s Day. Celebrate the blessing.